So, some may have noticed I missed last week’s Amazing VGM entry AND that this week’s is late. The reason is because I want this to be the final article of the year for me. One of the key features of this blog is that it’s not just a game review blog, but it is also an outlet I put a lot of myself into. Ever since birth, I had strong handicaps in the social area and with communication that still impact me to this day. It just never felt safe to tell anyone about my passions or my experiences with games because I always felt like others didn’t understand them. Yes, other people my age played games to but they were all normies and you know how they are.
I use this blog as a why of not only expressing just how much these games mean to me and how much I think about them, but I also like to talk about how they made me who I was. The biggest irony I have seen is that there was a time where I was insecure about being a gamer and felt judged for my hobby, and now I continually take shots at the gamerbro crowd, despite the fact that gaming likely means more to me than it does them
These games have done more to shape my growth and my life than my real family ever could, and knowing about not only the games themselves, but also the culture of gaming and the people who play and make them and all the individual elements that go into their creation. Yes, activism may be a big thing for me and I may be trying my damnedest to have my voice heard, but truthfully it’s just because I want it all to quiet down so I just go back to muh vidyz and finally finish that goddamn backlog.
So, what better way to reflect on a year of growth than by ending it with the same series we started with; NieR.
This beautiful song is the ending credits music to NieR Automata, an action RPG released earlier this year that I have gone on record for saying is absolutely amazing. I did not think this game had any chance of topping the first game’s ending credits piece “Ashes of Dreams” and I did not think that it did the first time I heard it. If I’m being honest, I still think “Ashes of Dreams” is the better song but “The Weight of the World is used a whole lot more effectively in the context of the game. Considering how well “Ashes of Dreams” was a very appropriate song for the original NieR, that is saying A LOT!
Of note is the opening in how it starts out sounding light with ambient noises and guitar plucks. As it gets to the pre chorus, it starts to pick up in pace with the drums and violins. In the second half, you still have the same melody with a bit more instruments. This is very appropriate considering the emphasis on togetherness that this song holds. I have pointed out in the past how the lyrics of this song have touched me on a very personal level, in a “holy shit this is me” way. Of course, it would be remiss for me to neglect to mention the Japanese version.
There are a few notable differences in the Japanese version, the obvious being the singer is different and the lyrics are in Japanese (no duh). As great of a vocal performance J’Nique Nicole has given, I am still more partial to Nami Nakagawa’s as I just like the sound of her voice more, and I also feel that the English version misses a few key points of the original lyrics. But there is one more version of the song that this article would NOT be complete without.
The scene that this specific track plays in is certainly special. When I first reviewed NieR Automata, I said it had the strongest written story out of any game I’ve ever played. This title has of course been usurped by Euphoria, but it was difficult to decide as both games do share a few similar themes. What specifically put NieR Automata at the top when I played it was Ending E. If you’ve gotten this ending, you already know why. And if you don’t and plan on playing this game, then MAJOR SPOILERS for the rest of this article.
Ending E is obtained after the player has already seen 3 of the 4 main endings, and beats the final boss on the last ending. The ending credits will be interrupted by the pods that have accompanied the main characters throughout the game. The ending twist reveals that the giant tower the machines have inhabited is NOT a doomsday weapon, and that the final boss is either A2 if you are playing as 9S, or 9S if you are playing as A2. It ends with all the androids and machines dead except for the pods.
Despite the fact that the androids and machines were both capable of showing human emotions, the pods were more like your typical machines. They were programmed to do a planet wide data wipe when all the androids are dead. However, the pods after having seen how 2B, 9S, and A2 have grown over the course of the game and their hardships, which causes them to gain sentience as well and decide to rebuild 2B and the others. But going against their own purpose for existing is not something that is taken lightly.
The game then starts to get even more meta when you figure out that the final boss was NOT A2 or 2B. Instead, the final boss and the ending credits are one and the same. The fight is done in the same shmup based style as 9S’s hacking minigames and you need to need to shoot at each of them until they are all destroyed. You can only take 2 hits but they can take a fuck ton more. Every time you die, the game asks you to give up and the questions become more and more brutal like “DO YOU THINK GAMES ARE SILLY LITTLE THINGS?” or “DO YOU ADMIT THERE IS NO MEANING TO THIS WORLD?”
If the player keeps saying no to all of them, they will eventually reach the point where other players come to your assistance and serve as both a shield and as extra fire power. If you get hit, one of them will disappear and a message saying “X’s save data has been deleted.” You will need them to get through this btw, as the later credits soak up a ton of shots. When you finally beat them, the game asks you if you would like to share a message for any other players at this same spot. The price is that, in order to do so, the game will delete all your saved data. The game even brings up the possibility that it may be someone you do not like or even hate. If you did not complete every sidequest, that would mean you no longer have the chance to.
One may notice that this is very similar to the original NieR’s Ending D. Ending D of that game had Nier sacrificing his own existence to save Kaine, and this was also represented by the player wiping away their own save data. This just makes the impact of ending D all the more heart breaking when you see that even Nier’s own daughter does not remember him and how the already depressing previously mentioned ending credits them “Ashes of Dreams” opens up with a soft 1 minute piano solo. It is one of the most heart rending scenes to every come out of gaming, but Automata STILL made better use of it.
In the original, you were sacrificing your real life save data to bring back Kaine, a fictional character. In Automata, you are sacrificing your save data to help another real life human being. And as I said, you will NEED this help to get past the credits. Yoko Taro is known for making depressing games, so much that a lot of people did not believe him when he said Automata would have a happy ending. As such, it only makes sense that the player is going against Yoko Taro’s own wishes in order to get that elusive happy ending, similarly to how the pods have to go against the wishes of their own creators.
I have a regretful confession to make that I… did not delete my save data. I still had some stuff left to do in the game and I though I would get the DLC at the time. Hell maybe I still will. Or maybe I could just rectify this by going up to my room, popping in NieR Automata, and redoing ending E, but I’m too lazy to do that when I remind myself its just a game. However, the sheer fact that I felt genuine guilt over not having done this shows just how powerful this game truly is, and it shows you how many people are out there will give up ANYTHING to help someone they don’t even know in an age where we are more divided than ever before.
I have always had a strong desire to help others and to become an activist of sorts, but I only embraced it once I really felt HRT take effect. Other trans people are perhaps those that I care about the most. To be honest, it may not even be necessary for me to create any sort of impact for the sake of trans people as it only seems like a matter of time until things get better for us. However, I’m not focused solely own legal rights, but on cultural perception as well.
It may not be a physical fight, but thinking about these existentialist concepts is dangerous for one’s mental health. Additionally, I want to become a well known activist who says things that matter to people. I admit, part of it is because I, like many other nutjobs, am hungry for power. However, I’m not talking about power” in the traditional sense. I’m talking about the ability to influence others. And yes, a lot of insecurities come from this because I don’t want to hurt anybody and instead want to protect people. I contradict myself in a lot of ways, mainly in that I want to influence others who listen to me willingly. As such, I plan to go as far as I possible can with this desire and simply see how much I accomplish.
Something like the ending of NieR Automata helps remind me that I’ve already accomplished more than most ever will. I don’t need to save the world for people to recognize me; I only need to save one person. And yes, the line “but the truth is that I’m only one girl” is what touched me the most. I don’t plan to analyze every lyric in this song because this is already getting pretty long, but Ill talk about the general themes.
It strongly exudes the feeling of hopelessness that I and many others have felt walking this earth. Nearly ever word of this song is something I have regularly felt in regards to myself.It is also fitting in regards to the game itself. A major theme of the game is the meaning of life, or more so that the idea of life having an inherent meaning is reductionist in and of itself. Both the androids and machines had inherent purposes, but neither of them liked it and the happy ending results when the pods abandon that “purpose.” The same approach can be taken to our own “purpose” in life.
But the main theme represents the power of unity and togetherness. Alone we are weak, but united we can take down any foe or accomplish any goal. We don’t need to rely on one person. From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs… uh, I’m just saying that ironically!
And yes, because of that, I am reminded that we don’t all have to save the world because sometimes saving only one person is enough… even if that person is yourself.
Happy New Years everyone. Here’s to a better 2018, and to a better future!
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